The 'No Time for Waste Challenge' led by Tesco and delivered by Hubbub was a six-week pilot supporting 53 diverse households from across the country in their efforts to save money and cut food waste. 

The Challenge resulted in a 76% decrease in food waste over the trial period. Of the households that reported money saved during the period, there was an average reported saving of £16.50 per week.  These savings appeared to have continued after the challenge was completed.  One month later we caught up with 50 of the participants, 94% said that they were wasting less food than before the pilot, while 78% said that they were spending less money on food.

The Challenge created significant shifts in household behaviour, including people using all their leftovers and eating more meals together.  Just as importantly, many said that the pilot had saved them time and reduced stress in their busy lives. 

Marie, a mum of three from Birmingham, said:

“This challenge has really helped me be more organised and plan.  I plan my shopping after I’ve checked what I have in the freezer.  Above everything else it has made me fall back in love with food, flavours and cooking.  My broccoli stalks are in the fridge and not in the bin.”

The Challenge results are encouraging and significant.  Tackling food waste is crucial if we are to address the climate crisis.  In the UK, household food waste makes up 71% of edible post-farm food waste, so taking action at this level has huge environmental benefits, as well as savings to households.

Reducing household food waste has proven a stubborn problem, but it is possible that the impact of COVID-19 has shifted the dynamics.  This year we have seen a surge in interest around getting back to basics with food.  It’s not just the lockdown ‘sourdough’ effect – many people are valuing their food more, trying to make the most of it and wishing to pass those life skills on to their children.

The No Time for Waste Challenge explored whether this new relationship with food could be used to help households cut waste and save money, combining Tesco’s commitment to tackling food waste at every level of the supply chain with the behaviour change skills of Hubbub.

The Challenge results indicate that significant change is possible and identified five key learnings:

1) Bridging the gap

There is a knowledge gap in the UK around basic food management, from understanding date labels to knowing how to correctly store perishable food. Once the group was equipped with accessible and supportive information, they were committed and enthusiastic in making changes at home.

2) Community is crucial

A closed Facebook Group acted as an information and social hub for the pilot. This was particularly vital given that Covid-19 restrictions prevented us from bringing the group together in person. The community aspect motivated the participants to demonstrate their achievements to others and made them feel that they were part of something bigger.

3) Small incentives go a long way 

Participants were hugely motivated by spot prizes awarded for completion of the weekly challenges and felt rewarded and appreciated for their efforts. It built a sense of healthy competition, and camaraderie, with participants congratulating and cheering each other on for their achievements. The participants received a financial incentive for completing the challenge.

4) Flexibility is key

The participants responded particularly well to the activities that they could do in their own time within the challenge period. Being able to undertake activities around their busy lives, while working to a clear goal and deadline was highly motivating.

5) It’s all in the tone

All of the content used in the pilot were created in a friendly and accessible tone with plenty of humour and positivity. The participants followed suit, and we saw a constant drumbeat of friendly, mutually supportive conversation on the Group.

The full learnings can be found here. Tesco has launched www.TescoFoodWasteChallenge.co.uk which contains all of the pilot information and tools, including inspirational videos and stories of change from participants. Hopefully this will inspire more households to act, helping them save money and cut waste.  To discover more about Hubbub’s approach to promoting healthy, less wasteful diets please contact our Head of Food, Aoife Allen at [email protected]